DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m 18 and my best friend for 10 years is dating someone with a lot of mental health and drug abuse problems. Even after he said terrible things to her, she still took him back. I’m always there for her when she’s upset about him, but then she takes him back and blows me off. I’ve told her he’s not good for her and she just defends him. Our last conversation turned into a huge fight and I don’t know if we can be friends if she keeps dating him. She’s made it clear they are staying together. But I worry because she’s doing things she’d never do before they met. I’m not good at keeping my mouth shut, so what do I do? — Lillie, New York, N.Y.
Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: What I’ve learned about friends dating idiots, the idiot is perfectly capable of severing ties on his own, whether it’s cheating, hitting bottom on drugs or worse. Wait it out. High school girls love bad boys, but after graduating they usually want better than a professional cannabis taster. Graduation is also when you learn who your true friends are, which is why I recommend sticking with her. Shooting off about bad partners is a losing battle. Now, if you suspect her life is in danger, let her parents know. But if he’s just some deadbeat, he’ll dig his own grave. Your arguing makes her care even more for the “tormented soul” who needs rescuing.
Maddie, 15, Cotati: My best friend was dating a loser. I learned that harping on it just made her want to rebel and date him even more. Your friend most likely knows deep down she deserves better, but she has to be the one to break it off. Best: Remind her that you’re there for her and you’ll accept him if that’s what she wants.
Katherine, 17, Redding: I’ve been on the other side, where my friends don’t like my boyfriend. Try her shoes on. Her boyfriend isn’t treating her right and her best friend is accusing her of being with the wrong guy. It’s a lot of stress, plus deep down, she knows. Voicing your opinion just makes things worse, so be supportive and avoid the boyfriend topic, or if she brings it up, stay neutral. This is her lesson to learn.
Carmela, 15, Davis: My best guy friend started dating a girl who constantly flirted with other guys, cheated, told his secrets and trash-talked him. He was completely addicted to her and always made excuses. Eventually our friendship deteriorated as she took my place. A year later, we began talking again and I decided to keep my opinions to myself and only hang out with him when she wasn’t around. Finally, after three years and a cheating episode he couldn’t ignore, he broke up with her, saying he was tired of being kicked around. But now they are fooling around again! Clearly he’s still obsessed. We’ve drifted very far apart, but all I can do is wait. It’s not my place to tell him what to do. Of course, if a friend is really in trouble, you must tell an authority figure.
Dear Lillie: What I’m hearing from the panel is that if you value your friendship, you shut up and wait it out. (I can vouch for this at all ages.) The exception: If she’s in trouble. Then you open your big mouth loud and clear. Knowing her boyfriend is a drug abuser, it doesn’t take a mind-reader to guess what’s worrying you — and if you’re worried, I’m worried. Tell her parents, anonymously if you must. Let THEM break them up.